Mastering motion sickness

Several years ago, my husband’s cousin and his wife invited us to join them on a 1-day cruise in Alaska, viewing Aialik Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Lunch was on board the ship and a lovely salmon and crab dinner at Fox Island awaited us on the way back. 
We arrived at 9 am at the boat terminal through pouring rain, wind gusts that nearly knocked us over, and a temperature of 49 degrees Fahrenheit. The captain cancelled the cruise due to the weather, thank heavens. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being tossed about on the boat, because I get motion sick.
Some people find acupressure helps their motion sickness. Wearing an elastic band around your wrist activates a particular pressure point, easing the nausea and discomfort. To give this medication-free approach a try, look for Sea Bands®.
Ginger can be an effective motion sickness remedy when you take 500mg to 1000mg of powdered root every 4-6 hours. Fresh ginger root, capsules of ground ginger, or small chunks of sweetened, crystallized ginger also work. My favorite form is crystalized ginger, which weighs twice as much as powdered ginger. 
Weighing pieces of crystallized ginger with my little apothecary scale left over from pharmacy school, I have found the best results with chunks about the size of a full-strength aspirin tablet. Ginger ale, ginger tea, and gum don’t have enough ginger to provide me reliable relief. 
Dramamine® for motion sickness is a popular non-prescription remedy but watch out: it has two different formulations, the original one and a “less drowsy” formula. 
The original version of Dramamine® contains dimenhydrinate, a close cousin of diphenhydramine or Benadryl®. Both dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine can prevent motion sickness. Unfortunately, they also make you drowsy and need to be taken frequently. 
The last time I took Dramamine® was on a flight home from Orlando to Seattle. After crossing 3 time zones going westbound, I lost track of time, and it wore off right when I needed it most. 
Meclizine is my reliable motion sickness remedy. You can buy it 3 ways: Bonine®, Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula, and generic meclizine tablets. I recommend the 25mg chewable tablets of meclizine unless your doctor advises you to take the 12.5mg tablets instead.  
I never leave home without my chewable meclizine for motion sickness. It’s inexpensive, is available as chewable flavored tablets, and rarely causes drowsiness. Best of all, one dose lasts 24 hours!
For more relief, try adding ginger or acupressure to meclizine. Avoid combining dimenhydrinate (the original Dramamine®) with either meclizine or Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) because together, they can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and constipation. 
If meclizine or dimenhydrinate plus ginger and Sea-Bands® doesn’t help you, ask your doctor about a prescription for scopolamine patches.
Scopolamine is a patch (Transderm Scop®) you wear behind your ear, each lasting for 2-3 days. Scopolamine patches are more potent at relieving motion sickness than non-prescription medicines, but they also cause more side effects. 
Scopolamine can cause fatigue, blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and urinary retention. Talk to your medical provider about whether scopolamine would be a safe choice for you, especially if you have constipation. 
Here are 5 Tips on Mastering Motion Sickness:
1. Face forward. 
If possible, sit facing forward on cars, trains, boats, and roller coasters. 
2. Keep cool.
Sit where you can get fresh air or a cool breeze. I find that getting too warm always makes my motion sickness worse, so I wear layers to avoid getting overheated. 
3. Be prepared.
Motion sickness medicine takes a while to work and is best taken as a preventative. You should take or apply motion-sickness remedies at least 30 minutes before experiencing the motion of a boat, car, or plane. If you take a short-acting nausea medicine like ginger or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®), always bring another dose with you. If your outing is delayed, you can re-dose before the first one wears off. (Trust me!)
4. Choose meclizine.
When picking out motion-sickness medicine, watch out! There are two formulas of the motion sickness medicine Dramamine®, always placed side by side on the shelf. I strongly recommend getting meclizine, sold as a generic version of Bonine® or the Dramamine® Less Drowsy Formula. Meclizine is just as effective but costs less than brand name versions.
5. Meclizine works for dogs, too. 
If your dog gets carsick, meclizine can help. For most dogs, the dose is 25mg once daily; if your dog is small or already takes medication, please check with your veterinarian first. 
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 40-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Check out her NEW website for daily tips on how to take your medicine safely.®2020 Louise Achey

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